By: Nick Edwards
For over thirteen years Ubisoft has often hit gold with their beloved Assassin’s Creed series, releasing eleven main entries and over eleven smaller entries over all sorts of platforms. All of them featuring heroic assassins fighting to stop a shadow group bent on taking away humanity’s free will and imposing their ideals of what a perfect world should look like. The appeal of the games has always been looking back at certain points in history and at certain locations and swan diving into some hay. But just because they all share the same concept doesn’t mean they all equal the same experience. I am going to give you the definitive ranking of main entry Assassin’s Creed games that will once and for all remove all doubt which historical hitman reigns supreme.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity
What started out so promising a concept, a four-player co-op experience in pre-revolution Paris, quickly fell flat. Unity launched with more bugs than a New York City restaurant. Add that on top of a poorly designed new parkour system and a bland uninspired character and a “women are hard to design” controversy, this is the game that almost shoved a hidden blade into the ribs of the entire series.
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue
The direct sequel to Black Flag, Rogue looked to not completely rest on the work done by its predecessor by turning the story on its head. Instead of an initiate to the brotherhood, you play an assassin turned hunter. The game isn’t bad per se but suffered greatly from feeling like DLC and being the last game to be released for the PS3/360 era. Black Flag made its way to the next-gen consoles somewhat making Rogue feel obsolete at the time.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
The swan song to the Ezio trilogy was not the opus we all hoped it would be. While the series did it’s best to try to innovate and add many new features like crafting, the other additions like a tower defense mode just felt filler to pad out a game running out of ideas. The story was still a satisfying conclusion but by this time everyone was feeling the need for something fresher. In the end, Revelations suffered greatly from the yearly release cycle and burnout from players that after 3 games, needed something new.
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
If one good thing came from Unity, it is that it forced Ubisoft to take a step back and do away with the yearly AC releases. Syndicate seemed like a direct response to all the criticism of Unity. You switched back and forth between twin protagonists, Evie and Jacob, the draw being one was stealthier and the other preferring a more direct approach. The truth is though that once you got past the initial skill differences, they played very similar and the game seemed to favor Jacob in the end. Victorian London was beautiful and the most modern setting of an Assassins Creed game. It was a great step up from Unity even if it didn’t feel like a true AC game as by this point the series was still trying to figure out its lore and what to do with its parkour system.
Assassin’s Creed III
Moving the series over to the fledgling colonies of America. The sprawling cities and rooftops of the past now gone, replaced with forests and small settlements. While there are so many aspects about this game to love; the way you parkoured through trees, the environment, tomahawks, the tyranny of King George DLC. I cannot move this higher up on the list. You truly feel like they wrote themselves into a corner with the animus stuff and have no idea what to do with it. The story in general just fell flat with an uncharismatic protagonist and bloated lore.
The game that started it all and served as a great base to build future games off. It was unique and innovative. It was refreshing to be truly surprised when you boot the game up for the first time to find it was more than just a historic game about killing people, but the sci-fi elements that made it special. The game succeeded in more areas than it failed. It’s middle of the pack for the groundwork it laid, not for lost potential.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Brotherhood is a direct sequel to Assassins Creed II which came out just a year prior. Even with the short time between releases, it felt like a fully realized game even if most of the time spent is in Rome. It offered an exciting logical continuation of Ezio’s story even if it did the very video-gamey thing of taking away all the cool stuff you had earned in its predecessor. Running around Rome taking back control from the Borgias will forever be one of my favorite things about this game.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
The latest in the franchise is huge. It feels like a step back in some ways from Origins and a step towards the Ubification. You can choose between two characters but for the life of me, I don’t know a single soul that chose to play as the male protagonist because of the poor VO quality. Parts of gameplay, such as territory wars in which you help a warring side gain control of an area, seem to carry no weight at all and just to serve as padding. Keeping in mind the heavy grinding players had to due to level up, missions auto-scaling and the XP boosts sold in the Ubisoft store this game had the stain of feeling like it just wanting to milk the fan base for money and not provide a fun experience.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Pirates and Sea shanties…
For real this was such a fun departure from the norm that when it was all over people were disappointed that ships weren’t included in all AC games (Odysseys ship to ship combat didn’t feel as satisfying as this.) Ship to ship combat, sacking ships, looking for treasure on the ocean floor and whaling mini-games make this one of the shining stars of the series. Everything about this game was a huge step forward and considering this was the first AC game to make its way to “Next-Gen” consoles it truly felt like it was a new and better way forward for the series. Black Flag was the first to buck the traditional Abstergo present-day missions of the previous games.
Assassin’s Creed II
This took all the promise of the first game and delivered in droves and gave us one of the most beloved character arcs of the series. Very few video game characters, in general, can hold a flame to Ezio. The character arc was well written and believable. You started out the game annoyed that you would be spending the next 20 hours or so with this seemingly one noted character. It gave you a beautiful look at Italy weaving in historical powerhouses like the Borgia and Leonardo DaVinci. Hunting down legendary armor, upgrading your villa and a full world with plenty to do. Assassins Creed II is the game others on this list tried so hard to be. While the original laid the groundwork, the series owes more to this entry than anything else. You can still see influences from 2 in every version of AC since.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins
Origins really delivered it all. As much fun as it is to get a peek at all the other historical places and times in the series they all come up short compared to Egypt. Each area of the map feels unique and lively from vast stretches of desert to Roman-inspired cities, small villages and Egyptian ruins in between. Combat was redesigned, traversal streamlined. It gave you so much to do but it never felt daunting or tedious. The story was rich and for me at least relatable. It is a game you can keep diving back into well after you finish the story. Extra points for the wonderful addition of the Discovery tour, which takes out all combat and instead takes you on a guided tour of Ancient Egypt.